Like many avid YA readers, I always approach the making of a film based on a book series with a weary sort of sigh, because there are so many ways that it can go horribly, horribly wrong (i.e. Twilight, Beautiful Creatures, and I haven’t even bothered seeing The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones). I’m also usually highly skeptical of the casting, and Divergent was no exception. Yet I wanted to see the movie to get my Tris-and-Four fill as I’ve yet to read the last book in the series because it’s received such mixed reviews (though I have read a plot summary, and I have to agree that it sounds rather absurd). So this past Friday I trudged along to my local movie theater to catch a matinee showing, and was surprised to find that except for a few elderly couples, the theater was pretty much vacant.
Despite the lack of a crowd on opening day, I found myself pleasantly surprised in what was an engaging movie that didn’t deviate too drastically from the book. The cast was enjoyable (especially Kate Winslet- loved her performance!) and the visuals were pretty spot on for what I had imagined while reading the series. My friend whom I was with had not read the books, yet did not have any trouble keeping up. I appreciate that the film kept it’s textual integrity while still being viewer-friendly to those who had not read the books (a feat that sometimes is not accomplished however well intentioned- I’m looking at you, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix).
Here’s a quick breakdown of why you should see Divergent:
- Theo James as Four. He may not be the exact Four I had in my head but I was not complaining about his performance, and he manages to have decent chemistry with Shailene Woodley (and he’s nice to look at…).
- The scenes are very visually stimulating, especially the choosing ceremony and the fear landscapes.
- It’s viewer friendly if you want/have to drag along someone who hasn’t read the book, and it’s an interesting story regardless
- This may be a mild spoiler, but there’s a scene in Tris’ fear landscape that she must overcome which involves her resisting a potential sexual assault. The fact that this movie identifies that assault is a very real issue that girls face everyday and has Tris verbally and physically fight back is empowering and makes me want to jump up and down in happiness that they choose to address it.
- It’s a longer movie at 2 hours and 20 minutes but it flies by, and it never stalls at any point.
- Tris is a strong, independent, relatively vocal female protagonist and she’s still identifiable to the audience.
- It’s better than the Hunger Games! (Well, in my opinion…I find this series more my style as far as dystopian novels go, and I definitely prefer Tris over Katniss).
My only complaint about the film was that all of the transfer guys in Dauntless in Tris’ class looked alike. I’m not even kidding. I couldn’t keep Peter/Will/Al straight because the actors all looked like they could be related. Yet overall Divergent didn’t disappoint and I am more than excited to see the next film! Though the film has been all over the news for not making as much as Hunger Games did its opening weekend, Divergent is its own story that deserves its own fan base and its own appreciation rather than being constantly pitted against other dystopian society text-to-film adaptations. So go see it! If YA fantasy/action/dystopian is your thing, you won’t be disappointed!
If you have seen it, what were your thoughts? Do you like the series better than Hunger Games?